Cycling job made permanent
Nov 16, 2009
Economic Development and Planning Committee REPORT 09-023 Tuesday, November 3, 2009 It’s taken nearly three years, and is still opposed by more than a third of city council, but Hamilton now has a permanent alternative transportation coordinator. The position has been temporary since June 2007 and serves to direct improvements to the city’s cycling infrastructure as well as pedestrian initiatives. Economic Development and Planning Committee REPORT 09-023 Tuesday, November 3, 2009
The city started allocating one percent of its road budget to cycling initiatives at the beginning of the decade, but didn’t hire anyone to oversee the spending. That led to the allocation being suspended in 2003 and again in 2007 by which time $772,000 had accumulated unspent.
The 2007 funding cancellation was bitterly denounced by Brian McHattie and also led the volunteer Hamilton Cycling Committee to suspend its activities in protest. That led to the June 2007 decision to establish a temporary two-year position using some of the accumulated capital dollars.
Two years later, in June of this year, coordinator Daryl Bender unveiled a $51.5 million cycling master plan and senior staff proposed making his position permanent. Their report pointed to successful implementation of a number of cycling projects since Bender’s hiring as evidence of the “great value in having a cycling coordinator” position.
“Integral to delivering the plan is the requirement for a full-time staff member dedicated to delivering the program,” argued the staff report. “In order that the cycling infrastructure in the master plan is implemented, it is recommended that this position be made permanent.”
The master plan was approved, but only in principle without any funding commitment, and a decision on Bender’s position was deferred. The proposal returned to the committee on November 2 and was debated in camera and approved by a 5-1 vote.
That brought it to last week’s city council meeting where it was questioned by Brad Clark and Terry Whitehead. The latter pointed to “budget pressures” and moved to defer it again.
“I think this should be deferred to the budget process, quite frankly, so we can have a fulsome discussion and understand all the different pressures,” said Whitehead. His motion was backed by Clark, along with Chad Collins, Scott Duvall, Dave Mitchell and Robert Pasuta but it was defeated 10-6.The same six councillors then voted against the decision to make the coordinator position permanent. A decision on funding for the cycling master plan may come next month when councillors debate next year’s capital budget.